Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Intermediaries focused on youth in Chicago

Since October 2014 I've been posting articles showing uses of concept maps. They are a different form of information visualization than the geographic maps posted since 2008.

The map at the left shows intermediary organizations who focus on the well-being of youth in the Chicago region. Some of the nodes are empty, such as ones focused on "business, universities, philanthropy and faith networks". What this means is that someone needs to build a similar concept map, showing what organizations within these categories are doing to support programs helping youth in different parts of the Chicago region.

Most of the nodes on the concept map have links to the organizational web site. I encourage readers to look at each web site to see what they are doing, and to offer your support if possible. As you do, look for visualizations that show a commitment to helping youth move through school and into jobs and careers, such as mine at the right. If a growing percent of all of the intermediaries focusing on youth shared the same broad goal, each could then define their own focus area, such as making STEM programs available in non-school hours, or arts programs available during school day hours.

I'd also look to see if each intermediary has a resource section where they include maps like this, and where they point to others who are working to help youth in the region. At minimum they should point to a list of organizations within their own sphere of influence, like the Chicago tutor/mentor program list that I host.

I created this graphic (see article) to illustrate a need to not only influence what service providers do to help youth, but to illustrate what resource providers need to do to assure that every service provider, and intermediary, has the talent, tools, dollars, etc. to do the work that needs to be done, and to keep doing it, and getting better, for many years.

I feel this should be a shared goal, and responsibility, of every intermediary, and every service provider. If we're going to reach youth in every high poverty neighborhood with programs that help them move from first grade to adult roles, responsibilities and jobs and careers, we need to influence the distribution of resources and the growth of needed programs in all high poverty areas of the city and suburbs.


I've hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago every six months since May 1994. I've invited leaders and staff of these intermediaries to attend, and to use the conference as a meeting place for their own networks, while also using the conference to help build visibility and draw needed resources to themselves, and to all of the organizations they support. If you look at names and organizations shown on conference attendee lists that I've used since 2007, or the conference maps that I've begun to create, you can see that there still is a great deal of work to be done to bring these groups together consistently.

I recognize that it's possible that someone else is having more success bringing these groups together and has been doing so for the past 20 years. If so, I would hope they would have some maps and attendee lists that show who is attending their events. I'd also hope to receive an invitation, and have my web sites serve as a resource for all of them.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Teens using maps --- in 1997 Presidents' Summit Publication

This is the back page of an 8 page newsletter that I picked up while attending the 1997 Presidents' Summit for America's Future event in Philadelphia. I was a Chicago delegate, and my organization, the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC), was one of 50 Teaching Examples with booths at the Summit. I was hoping this event would launch a wave of reinforcements (talent, dollars, ideas, etc.) to support site based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago and other cities, as well as intermediaries like the T/MC who were collecting and sharing information, and organizing events, intended to draw these resources directly to tutor/mentor programs.

I tried to find this organization on the web site, but it no longer exists, at least under this web address. The organization supporting this effort is TeenInk.com, which you can find here.

As you can see from this graphic I've been collecting information about Chicago tutor/mentor programs since before 1995, and have been using maps to show where existing programs are located as well as where more are needed, for just as long.

I've yet to see the President, Mayor, national leadership groups like America's Promise, etc. use maps consistently and for the purpose of drawing resources to places already operating, so each could constantly improve. Below is one of several illustrated essays I've created to show how leaders can, and should, be using maps. I sat next to General Colin Powel in a small Chicago meeting in 1997 or 1998 and tried to put some ideas about mapping in his hands at that time. Unfortunately, another leader (and former General) snatched the info from him. I doubt that he ever saw it.

No General Goes to War Without a Map by Daniel F. Bassill

If you're a leader, I encourage you to use maps in this way. If you lead a youth serving organization, or youth publication, encourage your teens and volunteers to create stories using maps, and calling on resource providers to fill high poverty areas with needed volunteer-based tutoring, mentoring and learning programs, as well as the talent, dollars and technology each program needs to operate, and constantly improve.

I'm looking for partners, sponsors, volunteers and a wide range of help to update my own mapping platform since I'm no longer operating as a 501-c-3 and have yet to figure out a business plan to generate revenue to support this work.

Here's the front cover of the publication that I point to above.

Five Presidents were featured and pledged to help the most at risk kids in America get mentors and find safe places to learn, play and connect during non school hours. Too bad none of them, or Presidents elected since then, have done this consistently, nor used maps in their own efforts to mobilize resources to support youth serving organizations.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Talent and Leadership Needed to Achieve Goals

While this blog focuses on ways maps and visualizations can be used to communicate holistic strategies that reach more youth, in more places, with comprehensive, long-term support, the Tutor/Mentor Blog has a wide range of articles focused on recruiting talent and leaders to make such programs available in Chicago and other cities.

I've been showing a variety of concept maps since last October, which illustrate goals, strategy and information I collect and share. Below is a "talent map", showing the different talents needed to help me do this work.



I think this map could be used as a team building tool by any organization, or intermediary. The center of the graphic, or hub, is the organization and its mission. The spokes in yellow, numbered from 1 to 7, represent key talents that are essential to organizational strength and mission success. In small organizations the leader may have many of these talents, but usually not all. As the organization grows, finding people who share the mission goals and passion, but fill specific talent roles, is one of the greatest challenges.

Each of the talent areas highlighted in yellow, may have several sub-talents. For instance I feel technology talent is critical to the work I do. However, while some people might be able to build a web site, they may not have the skills to build data visualizations, concept maps, or geographic maps, which are key tools to use to communicate holistic strategies. In the Public Awareness spoke there may be some who are good working with traditional media, some who are good at writing stories, some good in creating video stories, and others good in using social media to expand the reach of your message. However, few people have all these skills and most non profits have few people with the time to do this work consistently, or the talent. Thus recruiting talent to fill these roles is another huge challenge for social purpose organization leaders....including myself.

Another version of the Talent Map focuses on the network, or organizational background, talent comes from. The graphic at the right illustrates how people who share the mission, vision, need to help recruit talent and financial support for the organization. Recruiting people who have connections and civic reach within key industry, media, political sectors makes it more likely they have relationships that can draw the on-going support an organization needs.

While I've been creating these visualizations and writing blog articles to share them, I've had help from interns from different universities. Visit this page and this page to see visualizations done by interns. Consider doing some of this work yourself to support organizations you're involved with.

Or offer your talent to fill these roles with the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

R&D for Business Support of Tutor/Mentor Programs

Many companies spend billions of dollars on research and development (R&D) so they stay competitive in their markets or capitalize on new opportunities. How many spend even a few thousand dollars a year researching reasons for being strategically involved in youth tutoring/mentoring programs? Think about that as you read the rest of this article.

This is National Mentoring Month, and the final event will be the National Mentoring Summit being held in Washington, DC. I've attended in the past and there are great speakers and many valuable workshops. However, I've felt that the ROI (return on investment) has not been as great as it could be. No matter how many people attend a conference, each person can only meet a few. No matter how many workshops are offered, each person can only attend one in each time slot. Unless the conference is building public awareness that draws support (dollars, volunteers, etc.) to my own organization in Chicago or another city, the money I spend for room, travel and conference fee may not be worth the investment.

Does this mean don't go? No. Does this mean I'm no longer hosting Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago. No.

What it means is that I feel we need to find ways to bring people to on-line spaces where each person can spend time digging into the information a conference might offer, or that each participant brings, based on their own experience. That means each person needs to be sharing their ideas more completely in on-line space. I hope my example serves as a model.

During October-Dec 2014 I posted a series of concept maps outlining the vision and strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, now led by Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC. In order for me to host this information, or be more effective communicating my ideas, I require consistent funding and talent. So do leaders of any tutor/mentor program operating in Chicago or any other city. Since government and philanthropic support are inconsistent, and don't reach all programs consistently, I've always focused on business as the prime supporter of youth tutor/mentor programs.

Why? Because it benefits their own workers while developing a future work force. This article focus on the untapped potential of business investment.

Following are some concept maps that I've created to illustrate this point.

This map shows reasons a business might support the growth of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in cities where it does business, for strategic and workforce development reasons.



This map focuses on ways volunteer involvement in organized tutor/mentor programs might support workforce development within companies that encourage employee involvement and provide infrastructure support to places where employees do get involved.



This final map is a guide to "recommended reading" that company leaders might browse to build support for their own strategic, long-term involvement with volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in communities where they have facilities or do business.



Browse other articles on this blog to see how companies might use maps to support a growth of their involvement, or to serve as hubs for involvement of multiple businesses within the same geographic part of a city. Browse these leadership and workforce development articles on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog, and this section on the T/MI web site, for more resources to support business investment in volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs.

I hope these ideas are being discussed at the Mentoring Conference in DC, but I also hope we can attract R&D people from thousands of companies in Chicago and other cities to on-line conversations where we dig deeper into the ideas represented by these maps. Perhaps we can even find a few companies to sponsor and lead this discussion.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

High Profile Killings since 1984. Civic Institutions Structural Failure.

Today's Chicago Tribune included a perspective written by Dan Profit, a talk show host on WLS 890. It started with listing the high profile deaths of Chicago youth like Ben Wilson (1984) then jumped to Derrion Albert (2009), Hadiya Pendleton (2013) and Demario Bailey (2014), then said "These are children in Chicago whose gruesome deaths give life to the dreary body-count headlines that bleed over from one day to the next."

The article focused on how media attention is short-lived, and concluded with "In short, Chicago's civic institutions are structural failures. City government has failed. CPS has failed. The Police Department has failed. Nearly everything we have tried has failed." He writes, " We need to contemplate and debate deep, transformative, difficult changes."


I've highlighted these same stories since the early 1990s. There were quite a few high profile stories between Ben Wilson in 1984 and Derrion Albert in 2009.

Since 1993 I've offered a strategy, that if it had been embraced and followed over the past 20 years, would have resulted in a stronger network of tutoring, mentoring, learning and career development programs in all high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago, engaging people from all parts of the region in an on-going effort to make such programs available and help them each become the best at transforming lives of youth and adult participants. This story in the 1995 Chicago Tribune is one of many that give evidence that such a plan existed.

As the Internet has become a tool I've moved my ideas and resources to web sites. Since late October 2014 I've shown concept maps that visualize the strategy and point to the information available in the library.

In 2011 I set up a conversation thread on Debategraph where we start with the topic "Helping kids in poverty move to jobs and careers". This is a platform where the conversation is broken down into sub topics, and then sub-sub topics and is intended to engage large numbers of people. In blog articles on the Tutor/Mentor Institute site I've pointed to additional tools that can support community-based problem solving.

The central tenets of the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy are outline here and here and here.

Better information, including maps showing locations of existing programs needed to help youth move from one grade to the next, is essential. There's a cost to collecting, maintaining and constantly updating this information. However, without more people looking at the information it has little value. Since non-profits don't have advertising dollars to reach out every day to millions of people, other strategies need to do this work. I've collected news clips of hundreds of media stories. Few, if any, point readers to resource directories where they can find organizations where they can get involved with their time or talent.

More frequent "call to involvement" messages, in traditional, non tradition, business and religious media will bring more people to the type of information I and others share in on-line libraries. However, there also needs to be a process of facilitation, helping people find information they are looking for, understand existing information, and ways to become strategically involved on a personal or organizational level. Church groups have weekly discussions of scripture. The Tribune has a weekly feature highlighting "book clubs". A strategy that encourages people to learn more about poverty, violence, jobs, education, etc. and about places where they can get involved, would result more people building a growing sophistication of where and how they could give time, talent and dollars to help youth move safely through school and into jobs.

Unfortunately, I've not been able to attract consistent support from city leaders to this strategy. Not that I've not shared these ideas in a variety of formats since 1993.


I'll share this article on Twitter, Facebook and other media over the weekend. Hopefully people like Dan Profit will take a look and become an advocate and champion for this strategy. I encourage you to browse this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog, to find more stories like this that you and people in your own network can use to support your own planning and growing involvement.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Using Information as part of Problem Solving Process

Since October 25th I've been posting a series of articles that use concept maps as a tool for communicating strategy for helping kids in poverty move from birth to work, while also pointing to resources available to support leaders who adopt this commitment.

In the Tutor/Mentor Institute blog you can see more articles where I've embedded concept maps and ideas on systems thinking.

Today I'd like to introduce another map, showing the process I've been developing over the past 20 years.



On the left, I show the inputs, or information I've been aggregating since I formally created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993. Across the middle I show various ways I've tried to expose this information to a growing number of people. Since I've never had advertising dollars, nor support from high profile business, political or celebrity spokespersons, the number of people I've reached has been limited, but still over a million visits to my web sites alone since 1998.

On the right, I show how formal and informal learning can help people innovate new ways to draw resources to all tutor/mentor programs in a geographic region as large as Chicago, and to help leaders of these programs use these resources, and what they can learn from each other, to constantly improve the work they do to connect youth and volunteers and help kids succeed in school, and move to jobs and careers not limited by poverty.

I've been sharing ideas like this on blogs since 2005 and email newsletters since 2001. I published printed newsletters between 1993 and 2001. Everything I've done can be done much better by others who may have more talent and resources than I have.

I've been looking for leaders in business, universities, philanthropy, etc who embrace the strategies and the way I share this information, and who want to adopt my efforts and support them with their own leadership and resources into future years.

If you're interested, here's a link to social media places where you can connect with me.